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Affordable Homes in Rural Areas – Court of Appeal Ruling

VillageHousing developments in the countryside are almost always controversial, but those living in rural areas need affordable homes like anyone else. The Court of Appeal tackled that apparent dichotomy in quashing planning permission for construction of six affordable homes on the outskirts of a small village.

The project was the brainchild of a local couple who wanted to build themselves a new family home on an open paddock that they owned in the village. Their plan was to gift part of the land to a developer who intended to build up to six affordable homes for the benefit of local people in need.

Local planning policy favoured concentrating new housing on existing settlements, but an exception was applied to rural areas where there was a clearly identified need for affordable homes. A planning officer recommended that permission be refused, but the council cited the exception and granted outline consent. A local resident’s challenge to that decision was rejected by a judge.

In allowing his appeal and quashing the consent, however, the Court noted that the planning officer had given good reasons why permission should be refused. The most recent local housing needs assessment for the village identified a need for five, not six, new affordable homes. A housing officer had also called into serious question the actual need for more affordable homes in the village.

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